I was chatting with Kaye Berigan one night. I had just finished performing with Claude Dorsey and Kaye was about to start his gig with Jackson Dordel. Kaye reminded me that Milwaukee lacked a high-level rehearsal big band. Siggy Millonzi had run this type of big band years ago, and no one provided a challenging format for the better jazz musicians in the Milwaukee area. A few more conversations with Kaye and several months of weighing the commitment and I decided to do it.
We started on the first Thursday of this century and have performed almost every Thursday since, with the exception of the Thanksgiving Thursday holiday. Jimmy D provided his dining room for our use. Warren Weigratz (alto sax), Kaye Berigan (trumpet), Herb Draeger (trombone), and Mike Pauers, (baritone sax) were there from the beginning. There were 17 chairs in the band to fill every Thursday. At first, it was difficult to find substitutes, however, later on, I was able to build a list of backup musicians for each instrument.
~ Gary Christensen
Since it began in the year 2000, the band has performed at the Jimmy D's, Caroline's Jazz Club, Derry Hegarty's Pub & Grill, Long Wong's, The Brown Bottle, Kiko's Show Lounge, Best Western Midway Hotel & Suites, The Suburban Bourbon, and O'Donoghue's Irish Pub. The band has also been heard at various festivals including The Historic Third Ward Jazz Festival, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and Jazz in the Park.